My journey to wearing a bikini has been a rollercoaster of emotions, acceptance and celebration. Before I get ahead of myself let’s start at the beginning. Growing up I was bullied, didn’t fit the beauty ideals or the stereotype of a typical Indian girl. I was curvy and felt bigger than my friends and peers and wanted to hide as a result. This was before Kim Kardashian came onto the scene and Brazilian butt lifts (BBL) were trending. My thick thighs, round bum and small waist didn’t want any attention, so I chose to embrace the tomboy style. Wearing oversized clothing, trainers, baseball caps, I wanted to blend in rather than stand out.
"Remind yourself what beauty means to you. For me, beauty is someone being genuinely happy that they radiate warmth, positivity and kindness."
In hindsight, it was due to a lack of confidence, not feeling comfortable in my own skin and societal norms. Body dysmorphia is real, I’ve only come to terms with it recently after a lot of reflection. Society only perpetuates our insecurities for their own profit. Remind yourself daily what beauty means to you. For me, beauty it’s someone being genuinely happy that they radiate warmth, positivity and kindness. It can appear through smiles, eye contact, how they carry themselves and what they wear.
Lack Of Representation
We all have insecurities, but the culture I grew up in didn’t help my self-esteem, they jabbed at it instead. Making sly remarks about weight, clothing and complexion. I struggled for years with body confidence. Not seeing myself represented in mainstream media, beauty campaigns or on the catwalk. With the rise of social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram I started taking steps towards body acceptance. I followed Instagram hashtags like #effyourbeautystandards or #beautybeyondsize that celebrated normal bodies. Being exposed to all shapes, sizes and shades of beauty, broke the spell the media had once sold me. I began speaking with kindness as I looked in the mirror and reframed my thoughts around my body.
As I was beginning to celebrate my body, I found out I was pregnant, then my body changed again. As it would after carrying a child for nine months. Not only do new mothers have the pressure to bounce back, but they also have to balance their new responsibilities. My pregnancy left me with stretch marks, a size up in dress size and two sizes up in cup size. It felt like I was back at square one, not loving this new version of me. If I’m being candid, I cried many times. It was a mixture of increased hormones, postnatal depression and not recognising the reflection staring back at me. After reading Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, I slowly realised our appearance is the least interesting thing about us. We’re simultaneously a masterpiece and work in progress.
Personally, lockdown was my saving grace. It allowed me to look within and begin my self-love journey, rather than temporarily escape through other means. I addressed trauma, insecurities, grief and how I viewed myself. I got coached, read books, shamelessly scrolled through TikTok. I was finally feeling like myself again, a new and improved version. When I saw Curvy Kate’s call out for bikini babes and read Jackie Adedeji’s story, it hit home. I resonated with her story and felt she was speaking to me directly. In that moment I knew I had to apply, for me and other women. The ones who would always opt for a one-piece swimsuit like me. I wanted to remind others that we are bigger than our insecurities. It felt right, the next step in my journey. It was finally time to celebrate my essence, to shake my ass, in a bikini, in London.
"If you're on the fence, choose the bikini. Take back your power and own it - it's an empowering feeling."
The whole experience was surreal. Everyone was so supportive, hyped each other up and celebrated one another. I couldn’t have been with a better team. When I changed into the bikini, I felt liberated. I was giving society and the opinions of others a middle finger as I felt secure, beautiful and energised. I was no longer hiding behind my fears, instead I was being celebrated for being myself. For showing up authentically with stretch marks, cellulite, muffin top, rolls, curves. This is what a normal body looks like, no filters, no airbrush, simply me. If I can inspire one woman to show up confidently, with my story, courage or energy, then I’m winning. If you’re on the fence, choose the bikini. Take back your power and own it - it’s an empowering feeling, (I know that’s right!).